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Archive for July, 2013

A Section of Blue Ridge Parkway North of Asheville Closed Due to a Large Crack. Parkway South from Asheville to Cherokee Still Open.

July 19th, 2013 by abedofroses

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway North of Asheville

On July 12th a Park Ranger made a stunning discovery. A large crack, 150 feet long, 4 inches wide and in some places 6 feet deep had developed right down the center line of the The Blue Ridge Parkway just north of Asheville. Since that time the crack has grown to 200 feet long and 8 inches wide forcing the closure of a 20 mile stretch of the scenic highway to cars. Apparently the ground below the crack has been saturated with the heavy rains that have left our area lush and green this summer. Cars traveling from Asheville to Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain peak in the eastern US, are being detoured to I40 and US221 through Spruce Pine. Cyclists and hikers can still access the road, at least until repairs begin. July and October are the busiest months of the year for visitors to the Asheville area and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest

Looking Glass Falls in Pisgah National Forest

Luckily there is still access to all areas of the Parkway from Asheville south to Cherokee which includes The Folk Art Center and the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center. This section of the Parkway offers beautiful views, plenty of hiking trails, Mount Pisgah and the Pisgah National Forest, Graveyard Fields, Devil’s Courthouse and the Cradle of Forestry Overlook. Asheville is ideally located to provide easy access to outdoor activities and beautiful scenery, from the waterfalls of Dupont State Forest to rafting along the French Broad River or a visit to the North Carolina Arboretum with beautiful gardens as well as wooded trails. Chimney Rock and Lake Lure are close as well.

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock Park

There is still plenty to see and do in the area. Asheville itself has beautiful views and hosts events all summer long. The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, with over 300 exhibitors is here this weekend and Bele Cher, the largest free music and arts street festival in the Southeast is here next weekend. Folkmoot USA, a two week celebration of world cultures with international folk music and dance is going on right now. Just a few of the other festivals this summer include the Mountain Dance & Folk Festival August 1-3,  The Village Art & Craft Fair on the Grounds of the All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village on Aug. 3-4 and the LAAFF music and arts street fair on Labor Day weekend. A great place to get information on summer festivals as well as the many outdoor activities in the Asheville area is www.romanticasheville.com.

Perfectly ripe juicy mangoes are finally available! My Favorite Mango Recipes.

July 6th, 2013 by abedofroses

Sweet Ripe Mangoes

Sweet Ripe Mangoes

Finding the perfect mango at the grocery is an art, but one that is far easier to master this time of year. Here in Asheville, Florida Mangoes are in season from May to September and you can find a few different varieties. We see everything from the yellow Champagne mangoes that are more elongated and creamy to the large fat rounded Kent and the sweet and juicy Tommy Atkins varieties. Mangoes when they’re ripe don’t need much to bring out their flavor, but here are a few ways that I love to prepare them.

A simple Mango Blueberry salad on a bed of lettuce is a lovely accompaniment to my buttery, lemony Dutch Babies at breakfast time. Just peel and dice (a large dice) the mangoes and combine with an equal amount of fresh washed blueberries. Sprinkle with a little sugar. I find most recipes call for way more sugar than you need. Add lemon zest and a little bit of lemon juice and orange juice, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Elegant Muesli Fruit Parfaits

Elegant Muesli Fruit Parfaits

Another way to dress up mangoes for breakfast or dessert is layered into a muesli fruit parfait. The muesli is made the night before. Combine 1/4 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice. Add 3/4 cup of milk and 1 1/4 cups of rolled oats. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning it will have a thick pasty consistency. Chop strawberries, 2-3 large berries per person. Wash enough fresh blueberries for two small handfuls per person. Peel and dice one mango and then start to assemble. These look lovely in champagne flutes. Put a handful of the chopped strawberries in the bottom of each glass and layer a few of the blueberries, then a few chunks of mango. About half the glass should be filled. Put a spoonful of the muesli on top of the mangoes and a little whipped cream on top of that. Layer again starting with the strawberries and ending with the muesli. Top each with whipped cream and serve.

For a savory meal mangoes pair well with grilled chicken. I like to top grilled chicken with a mango salsa. Marinate 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts in 2 Tbs. tamari sauce mixed with 2 Tbs. honey. Let it sit in a glass bowl while you prepare the salsa. Combine a peeled chopped mango with 2 Tbs. fresh squeezed lime juice, 2 Tbs. diced onions and 3 heaping teaspoons of ground coriander. Grill the chicken for 7 minutes or until done. We use wood lump charcoal with a handful of mesquite chips to give it a smoky flavor. Top with salsa.

Another great way to serve mangoes and chicken together is in a grilled mango chicken salad. Crush a large clove of garlic into a 1 quart Ziploc freezer bag. Add 1 tsp. of fresh squeezed lime juice and 1 tsp. of olive oil. Add 1/4-1/2 tsp. of ground cumin then put 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts in the bag, seal and squish around to mix. Let the chicken marinate while you prepare a salad of mixed greens, red, yellow or orange diced peppers, cucumber and any other favorite fresh vegetables. Toss with a slightly sweet vinaigrette. I like to combine balsamic and raspberry vinegars and then add a little pomegranate juice and honey. Add just enough olive oil that the dressing emulsifies when whisked. Grill your chicken, slice it and top the salad with the chicken slices and peeled, sliced mango. Perfect for a hot summer night’s supper.

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